How much is Google to blame for newspapers’ woes?

April 8, 2009

The Web is abuzz over Eric Schmidt’s speech on Tuesday at the Newspaper Association of America’s annual meeting in San Diego — a speech, as the New York Times points out, in which the Google leader sidestepped any controversy and instead delivered “a lengthy discourse on the importance of newspapers and the challenges and opportunities brought about by technologies like mobile phones.”

So why all the fuss? Because newspapers are in deep trouble, and Google is an easy target for blame. The web search leader is weathering the recession relatively well and some have argued that Google News is making money off the back of newspaper publishers.

As Reuters puts it, “Some journalists have complained that search engines run by Google and Yahoo Inc make millions of dollars off their news, and that it should belong to them instead.”

Publishers from The New York Times Co to EW Scripps Co are struggling with a decline in advertising revenue that threatens the survival of some of their newspapers.

They are trying to find ways to make more money online to make up for what they are losing on their print editions.”

Google contends that it helps newspapers make more of that money by referring readers back to their websites. Newspapers, for their part, simply haven’t changed their business models to keep pace with the web.

“Schmidt told the Newspaper Association that newspaper websites someday would need to use several business models, including ads that support free news delivery, subscriptions and micro-payments, which are small fees to read articles,” Reuters reported.

The message is pretty clear: Start thinking about your own business instead of worrying about mine.

Keep an eye on:

  • Cutbacks and budget troubles at National Public Radio Inc. are adding to tensions with some of its member stations (
  • In his new role, Peter Rice, recently appointed head of Fox Broadcasting, is faced with trying to remove some of the burden for the network’s ratings from “American Idol.” (New York Times)
  • With magazines losing advertisers, the lines between advertising and editorial content are blurring (New York Times)

(Photo: Reuters)


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When newspapers first started sounding their death rattle, I was concerned – at first. But now it’s become so obvious that newspapers have done NOTHING to create better business models online. There are at least a dozen good examples around the world of publications making money online. I also now believe that good citizen journalism websites will replace local newspapers, but we will continue to need national news reporting. So, at this point, I just wave goodbye every time a newspaper owner starts whining about having to shut down. Evolve or die.

Posted by Michelle | Report as abusive

The paper part of the newspaper is dead … Get over it.The only thing that will remain is going to be vanity presses like HP is proposing with their printing service [ ]We didn’t fight for the rights of the buggy whip makers either … Suck it up.Journalism however is definitely NOT DEAD.It has been democratized, popularized, localized, opened up, opened on and opened for a new business model.If you worked as an editor or for an editor, you are going to find that the average person hasn’t suddenly improved in spelling or grammar, logic or comprehension, ability to communicate or in layout skills.We just have to find you a new way to get news that you write out there; .PDF files on your servers being distributed via RSS files that the Post Office has on their server and that gives access to the latest content for $ would go a long way towards granting you a new lease on life.The RSS file can even contain the highlights and a little bit of text from the articles which are still on your servers.Actually, you can extract the words from your articles, remove duplicates, sort them, and let Google be able to include or eliminate an article from a search, present the little highlight snatch of text to let potential readers determine if they are interested and then the post office can: 1) let subscribers access the article OR 2) charge for access to the article.This last part, subscription fulfillment or piece-meal charging, would be done by the post office. Nobody has ever had a problem paying for a stamp or expected a letter to be delivered without a stamp.Once the “news” becomes the “olds”, say after a week for most articles, let Gooogle have at the original that you can store in a separate server.a) The transmission of the articles is almost free.b) The distribution of the articles is almost free.c) The access is cheap but NOT free and the post office sees to that and that helps them with their business model.d) The post office send you a share of the money collected (and YOU KNOW HOW OFTEN AN ARTICLE IS FETCHED OFF OF YOUR SERVERS FROM A PARTICULAR IP ADDRESS.)There is a business model that would work, it would1) let new gathering organizations gather news,2) let readers read,3) let the post office disseminate and collect payments and disburse funds

Posted by msbpodcast | Report as abusive